How To Drive In Heavy Traffic & Traffic Jams

Last Updated: 10/04/2021

Even if you love driving, doing so in heavy traffic and traffic jams will test your patience to the maximum.

It can add hours to your journey time and can also be particularly tiring.

In addition to all of that there’s also an art to doing it properly.

We all live such busy lives now that getting from a-to-b in the fastest time possible is often key.

When we hit traffic, our stress levels rise.

It can impact your day and the plans you may have had for work, not to mention your personal life.

Safety becomes a big concern when you’re in heavy traffic.

Drivers can suffer from lapses of concentration, fatigue can cause mistakes and the wear and tear on your car can also be an issue, particularly with stopping and starting so frequently in older vehicles.

Luckily, we are armed with better information for avoiding traffic than ever before while our vehicles are more comfortable and smarter than they’ve ever been, both of which can make being stuck in traffic a little more bearable.

If you encounter a traffic jam or heavy traffic on your driving test, your examiner is going to observe how you handle the situation.

He or she will want to observe you being in complete control of the car, driving it safely and not become flustered by the situation.

What You Will Learn

Our guide will give you some advice on how to drive in heavy traffic, some hints and tips for doing so safely and some measures you can take to try and avoid becoming stuck in traffic jams in the first place.

Most of this is common sense or will just apply the theory from other areas of driving but it’s important to know how being in traffic can affect you and those around you, particularly from a driving and safety point of view.

Our guide on how to master driving in heavy traffic and traffic jams will cover the following areas:

  • Step-By-Step Guide
  • Video Demonstration
  • Hints & Tips
  • Useful Information
  • Final Thoughts
  • Further Resources

Step-By-Step Guide

Unlike other areas of driving or particularly manoeuvres, we don’t have a step-by-step guide to driving in traffic, however, we have put together a list of what you should do when you find yourself in heavy traffic, each one should be observed at all times.

Remove All Distractions:

It’s important to not have anything around you that you may be tempted to use or be distracted by when in traffic.

Because it can be very boring, many drivers lose concentration because they are distracted by things such as mobile phones.

This only makes the situation worse because it can lead to further accidents.

Use Your Gears To Boost Efficiency:

If you’re in slow moving traffic, the last thing you want to be doing is constantly changing gears as it stops and starts.

Instead, leave a larger distance between yourself and the cars ahead and try to drive consistently in a lower gear.

It can be more economical if nothing else and is better for your engine.

Leave Space:

Apply the two-second rule when monitoring distances between yourself and the vehicle in front of you.

Give yourself plenty of room to slow down and stop.

Slow Down:

This one seems simple, but if you’re driving on a motorway or a fast-moving road in heavy traffic, then ease off.

Taking 5mph off your speed in heavy traffic is a great way of minimising the risk of accidents or having to break suddenly if the traffic slows up, which often happens.

Pick An Alternative Route:

If the road you are travelling down is making you feel uncomfortable or unsafe then leave the road and pick a different route.

Even if it takes longer, feeling safe and comfortable behind the wheel is really important.

Be Aware Of Your Surroundings:

In slow-moving traffic, you will often get drivers who are impatiently trying to force their way through it.

They may under-take, squeeze in to gaps that barely exist – they may even use the hard shoulder despite it being illegal to do so.

Therefore, you need to remain fully focused and aware of what is happening around you.

Check mirrors and blind spots frequently.

Video Demonstration

Hints & Tips

There is no hard and fast rule for making heavy traffic more enjoyable to drive in, however, there are ways you can keep yourself and your passengers safe.

Here are a few hints and tips:

Remember The Basics:

Doing the basic things such as signalling before you change lanes or perform any manoeuvres is vital, yet so many drivers forget this, particularly in traffic jams.

Always use your mirrors when performing a manoeuvre as well.

Identify Dangerous Drivers:

If there are vehicles in traffic that are driving dangerously, for example moving erratically, then it’s important to identify them as soon as possible and hold back.

Give yourself as much distance as possible as if there is going to be an accident, they’re highly likely to be the ones who cause it.

Never Drive While Tired:

Driving while tired is a recipe for disaster and it will only get worse in heavy traffic or traffic jams.

It will also make your reactions slower.

Pay Attention To Heavy Traffic In The Distance:

It’s also important when driving in heavy traffic to stay aware of what’s happening ahead of you.

If you see traffic slowing down in the distance, you can take early measures to ensure you slow down smoothly and safely.

On the motorway for example, if you see several cars braking at the same time on the road ahead of you, it’s wise to ease off yourself so that you have time to take any necessary action.

Useful Information

Avoiding heavy traffic in the first place is undoubtedly the best way of managing traffic jams and slow lanes of traffic.

Thankfully, so many cars come with sat-nav systems and you can also download apps to your smartphone to make this possible, many of which are free.

Some satellite navigation systems will have live traffic information in them but if you do not have one, then you can simply use Google Maps before you leave home.

If you head to google.co.uk and put your journey in the search bar, it should present you with a live map of your route.

This will include road works and live traffic conditions, giving you an accurate arrival time.

If you’re able to, using a similar service while driving (through a safely mounted hands-free system) is great as it will often suggest alternative routes as well.

Final Thoughts

There is no golden bullet for avoiding heavy traffic and traffic jams unfortunately, so it’s about making sure you stay safe, watch those cars around you and where possible, avoid the traffic all together.

Further Resources